In preparation for its largest concert season to date, Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater increased safety measures and will no longer allow concertgoers to bring backpacks or purses.
The change will take effect at the first concert of the season on Aug. 8, amphitheater officials announced Friday.
Visitors are instead welcome to bring clear plastic bags to carry their sunscreen, coats and other belongings. The clear plastic bags can be no larger than a 12-by-6-by-12-inch tote bag with a single compartment or a small clutch bag that measures 4.5 by 6.5 inches.
Beau Eastes, marketing director for the Old Mill District and Les Schwab Amphitheater, said the change ensures concertgoers are not bringing in any weapons or their own food and beverages. It also allows security staff to more easily check people as they enter the concert venue.
“Because it’s a clear bag, it’s a lot easier to search,” Eastes said. “It allows security to be more efficient on keeping their eyes out for other things.”
Not allowing backpacks or purses is common at other larger venues across the region, such as Autzen Stadium in Eugene or Lumen Field in Seattle, Eastes said.
The amphitheater management felt it was time to make the change, especially since the venue is in the midst of an expansion and is drawing bigger artists. Earlier this year, the amphitheater reached an agreement with Live Nation, the largest concert promoter in the country.
“As we are hosting more shows and bigger shows, this is part of that next step,” Eastes said.
Through its partnership with Live Nation, the amphitheater is hosting a record 26 concerts this summer over 10 weeks in August and September.
The previous record season was 17 concerts in the summer of 2018. Since the 8,000-person venue hosted its first concerts in 2002, it has averaged about 12 concerts per year.
At every concert this summer, visitors will not be asked to wear a mask or social distance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Visitors will also not have to show proof of a vaccine or a negative COVID-19 test. The relaxed restrictions follow the state’s guidelines, Eastes said.
All venue employees will be vaccinated and additional sanitation stations, restrooms and hand-washing stations will be set up throughout the venue.
Other rules and regulations remain the same this concert season. Specifically, no blankets will be allowed at any of the shows.
In years past, when blankets were allowed, visitors took advantage and brought oversized blankets that blocked others’ access, Eastes said.
“People started abusing it where you would see king size comforters and people staking out territory in the middle of where everyone is wanting to stand and dance,” Eastes said. “It became a little contentious between concertgoers.”
Some concerts this year will allow people to bring small chairs, while other shows will not. Chairs must be no more than 8 inches from the seat to the ground and 33 inches from the top of the chair to the ground.
“It depends on the concert,” Eastes said. “Some of the more rocking shows, those chairs could become a hazard. As the sun sets, they become tripping hazards.”
Information on what shows will allow chairs is available online at bendconcerts.com.